The door is open for Roger Espinoza to return to Sporting Kansas City from England – but his old MLS club will wait until that can happen on their terms.
“I'm here to tell you there's no done deal,” manager Peter Vermes told reporters on Wednesday, during the club's weekly news conference. “I've talked to Roger since he left, and we're always talking about an opportunity for him if he ever comes back. But we own his rights, and we want him to come back.”
The two-time World Cup veteran played his first five professional seasons in Kansas City, becoming a fan favorite for his energetic and physical play in the midfield. After a standout showing for Honduras at the London Olympics, he turned his attention overseas and turned down a new contract at the end of the 2012 season to join Premier League club Wigan Athletic.
He helped the English side win the 2013 FA Cup, playing the whole match in an upset of Manchester City, but Wigan were relegated to the Championship at the end of that season and Espinoza found himself increasingly out of favor after a managerial change.
He has appeared in just two matches across all competitions this season for the Latics, fueling increasing speculation of a move back to MLS as early as the winter transfer window. But since Sporting hold the right of first refusal – they made a bona fide offer to Espinoza before he left – they can afford to wait until he is either out of contract or available for a free transfer.
“There's no reason for us to buy him,” Vermes said. “First off, he went away to that team on a free. Our league is not a model for transfers. It just is not. And we wouldn't go back out and buy him, especially when he's not playing on a regular basis there. Why would we? It would definitely not be a smart business move, and I like to think that we're pretty good on that.”
Within the past year, Sporting have proven themselves capable of waiting for a targeted player rather than spending in the transfer market.
They made a move for Honduran midfielder Jorge Claros in the middle of the 2013 season, but couldn't come to terms with former club Motagua and waited until he was out of contract this summer to sign him.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.